Willett Family Reserve Estate Bottled Rye (2 year)

Now, I have a particular fondness for young rye that actually tastes like rye. I want big eucalyptus, wintergreen, or pine, and I want spicy ‘sharp’ notes of cinnamon, cardamom, and anise. Occasionally, some caraway (think rye bread) is nice too.

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Great King Street: Glasgow Blend

I’m particularly impressed with the interplay of sherry notes (which are fleeting) with peat notes (which are understated but dominant), without the two ever conflicting. I’ve had $80 peated malts finished in sherry casks that didn’t integrate half as well.

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Compass Box – The Lost Blend

The clean, crisp notes of peach and white grapes carry through from nose to finish, never allowing the peat to dominate. Masterfully blended – a truly excellent example of skilled blending and what it can accomplish.

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Auchentoshan American Oak

As a value malt, this has a few ticks in its favor over the Classic, which it is replacing in the permanent Auchentoshan portfolio. $35 is not an unfair price for this light, straightforward NAS malt.

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Bowmore Small Batch

While I could have done with a bit more robustness at 46% or so, I applaud both the craftsmanship of this whisky, and its sane price point. Clearly more well-rounded and well-integrated than the cheaper Legend, it trades peat intensity for sweetness and subtlety.

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Exclusive Malts: North Highland (17 year) 1996-2014

This is possibly an experimental cask that didn’t make it into one of the Glenmorangie special editions, and was sold on the independent market. It reminds me somewhat of Artein, but only as a single component.

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Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon

I think it’s an excellent whisky, and really shows what Angel’s Envy is capable of. I can’t love the price point, however, no matter how carefully hand-picked the casks are.

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Baker’s Bourbon (7 year)

Baker’s is a bit of an oddball. One expects from bourbon a big, sweet ball of corn syrup, alcohol, and oak. Here the sweetness is merely background, letting nuances (including bitter and tannic ones) from the wood and, perhaps, the rye component play out.

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Knob Creek Small Batch Rye

For me, Knob Creek Rye sits squarely in the middle of the available (read: young) ryes currently available. It avoids the “spicy to a fault” armies of LDI/MGP rye clones with a nice balance of rye spiciness against warm, sweet cereal notes.

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Booker’s Bourbon (Batch C07-B-7)

A beast of a whiskey. Booker’s shows its best flavors and aromas while undiluted (except on the palate, where you can only taste fire), and provides a sense of accomplishment that few whiskies can offer when conquered neat. That said, one will be much more comfortable with a glass of Booker’s if a generous splash of water (or two) is used to tame it.

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